Category Archives: Packing

Bags Packed

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Our bags are packed for our Mega Trip to New Zealand and Australia.  I bought new bags, which are purported to be the world’s lightest.  They were the lightest bags I could find. As usual I bought them through http://www.eBags.com.   Search for IT Bags. We each have a 22 inch carry on and a 29 inch checked bag. Image 

We packed using our favorite eBags packing cubes.  The packing cubes now come in all sorts of fun colors and patterns. I use small packing cubes for liquids (zipped into quart size zip lock storage bags) and medications. The medium packing cubes are used for clothing.  I also like the slim packing cubes to fill in the blank spaces in our suitcase. 

As I’ve stated in prior posts, I take three clothing cubes full of clothes. One cube goes in my husband’s checked bag, one in my own checked bag and one in my carry on, and vice versa.  For this trip I added a cube full of extra layers, since we will be crossing from fall in the southern hemisphere to winter in the tropics.Packing Cubes 
For this trip I used an REI compression sack, which is sold with backpacking equipment to compress my down coat. See the blue bag that looks like a sleeping bag in the photos.

 The last step is to put our itinerary on top of the packing cubes. We always do this in case our bags decide to take an unscheduled trip to China or some other exotic place without us. This will help reunite us with our bags. I also have tags on our bags from Okoban at My Stuff Lost and Found. These tags will assist the airlines with reuniting us with our bags. http://mystufflostandfound.com/Luggage with It

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Inside Passage by Small Ship

Entering Tracy Arm.

Let me begin by saying this was our fourth trip to Alaska and third cruise of the Inside Passage.  We have cruised on a 2,000 passenger ship, a 140 passenger ship and now on a 60 passenger ship.  The 60 passenger ship is the way to go.

We were on the Un-Cruise Wilderness Adventurer on an Ultimate Adventure http://www.innerseadiscoveries.com/alaska-ultimate-adventure.  Two weeks of awe inspiring beauty, animal sightings and adventure.  Other bloggers have adequately covered the itinerary.  Check out

http://velvetescape.com/2011/07/cruise-alaska-inside-passage-small-ship/ and

http://www.cruisereport.com/crReview.aspx?id=2424#.

I would like to give some specific tips, allay some fears and alter some expectations.  So here goes.

First, the trip is not a “free for all”.  Don’t expect to be able to go ashore and hike wherever you like or kayak on your own route, outside the view of the ship.  ALL hikes and “kayak trips” are escorted and planned by the adventure crew, with the exception of “open kayaking”, which I will discuss later.  That said, the opportunities are varied and depend on the itinerary.

On our two weeks there were three “long kayak” trips offered.  These were 5 hours long and included a packed lunch for your time away from the ship.  There were also several short 2 or 3 hour kayak trips. These are active trips with steady kayaking for a long period.

Long kayak cuing up with Jenny the adventure guide.

“Open kayaking” is offered when the ship is at anchor.  You can kayak as long or as short as you like, they just ask that you don’t go out of sight of the ship.  This was the option my husband and I took advantage of three times over the course of the trip.  Our friends tried a 3 hour trip, but they like us, prefer to kayak for a while, then rest and just enjoy the view or sounds of nature.  They decided that the open kayak option was better suited to their kayaking style.

Open kayaks coming in.

Second, I’ll give you some packing advice.   The Un-Cruise recommends layers.  Layering is a good idea, however, don’t leave all your heavy layers at home.   I brought thermal shirts and pants, a wool sweater and a down jacket.  I used all of these layers.  The day we went through Tracy Arm to Sawyer Glacier, everyone was out on deck viewing the ice on the water.  It was cold and the glacier produces cold air.  I was toasty warm in my ski pants and down jacket.  I was sitting next to a woman from New York.  She looked at me and said that she wished she had brought some heavier clothes.  When they said to bring layers, she brought all light layers and left all her heavy winter gear at home.  I had brought my down jacket in a “space bag” with the air all compressed out of it, so it took up little space in my bag.

Foot wear has been a topic of frequent discussion.  We took four pairs of shoes, rubber boots, hiking boots, sneakers and water shoes.  We used all of these at least once on the trip.  If I was going to leave something at home, I would leave the water shoes and wear my sneakers in the kayak, knowing that they may get wet.  Also, I was asked by a couple from Israel to tell foreign travelers to leave the rubber boots at home.  The boats have about 30 pairs of rubber boots for loan.  If you have a very small or large size, then for sure bring your own rubber boots.

Third, what does the cabin look like and where will I stow my gear?  We had the smallest cabin offered and had plenty of room under the beds to stash our two 25” rolling duffel bags and a 20 inch carry-on, along with an odd assortment of shoes (rubber boots are kept in the hallway, along with your rain gear).  We use packing cubes and these proved to be invaluable.  There is no hanging closet (this is also true in the larger cabins).  There are four hooks and a shelving unit.  Our packing cubes stacked up very nicely on the shelving unit.

NOTE:  These photos and comments only relate to the vessel Wilderness Adventurer, cabins on other Un-Cruise ships may have differences.

Under the other bed there is plenty of room for two 25″ rolling duffels.

Cabin storage worked great for packing cubes. Note that the larger cabins have a deeper version of this shelving system.

Under bed storage side one with electrical box also under bed.

Sink and medicine cabinet.

Window and table storage (note there is a small cabinet with doors that close under the window. With this cabin configuration you have to be careful when you open the window, because things could fall out.

Lastly, please note that the itinerary is subject to change due to weather or wildlife.  Our second week was scheduled to include a visit to a village, but there were six foot swells in the sea we would need to cross, so the captain advised us that we would visit Devilfish Bay and that he was excited because he had never been there.  We spent a day anchored at the bay and were able to kayak out of sight of the ship, although the crew had a skiff in the water with us.

The next day we spent looking for whales, but ended up putting skiffs in the water to check out a colony of bachelor sea lions.  They put on quite a show for us.

Bachelor sea lions resting and singing to us.

In closing remember my travel mantra, “Be flexible”.  Life is too short to get locked into things and you may miss some awesome experiences if you stick to one plan and never alter.

We stayed on deck late watching two whales making bubble nets.